Bakersfield jewelry store owner shoots at robbers

Bakersfield jewelry store owner shoots at robbers »Play Video
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — A jewelry store owner is forced to shoot at suspects when he's held up at gunpoint. The owner said he was protecting his customers and himself.

A day later the owner is shaken up. It all happened all in less than a minute after one suspect opened fire.

"He missed me just by a few inches," Doug Jarvi told Eyewitness News. "I'm lucky to be alive today."

Three unidentified men, all wearing masks and one armed with a gun, went into Southwest Coins and Jewelry, 4429 Ming Ave. They immediately ordered everyone to the ground.

Jarvi said he was at the back of the store when the three stormed through the front door. One had a pistol.

"He's the one that leveled his gun at me," Jarvi said. "And he's the guy that had opened fire upon me, and I was -- you know -- shooting back."

But first, one thief had run back to the back where Jarvi was working.

"One of the guys jumped over the counter," Jarvi said. "Perhaps I shot him. It was very frightening."

But quickly, that suspect lunged at Jarvi, grabbed his hand, and got the shop-owner's gun away. Jarvi had retrieved it from a pocket.

Jarvi said a second man was busy bashing into a jewelry case with a hammer.

The shop-owner then moved to the office and got a second gun, but that led to another confrontation with the suspect who had the pistol.

"We both exchanged shots at one another," Jarvi explained. He said the suspect's bullets whizzed past him within a few inches. One bullet ended up next to a doorway, another hit a desk.

In these tense seconds, Jarvi's wife was also working in the store and there were four customers. He describes them as a lady, and a couple with a young child.

"The dad showed great instincts," Jarvi said. "He covered up his baby and got his wife on the floor."

The shop owners and the customers were not hurt, Jarvi said.

Police said they didn't know if any of the robbers were injured. They haven't publicly identified any suspects.

Friday morning, Eyewitness News discovered police had searched a dumpster a couple miles away in a shopping center at White Lane and Stine Road.

"They pulled out some things, it looked like clothing, some gloves and whatnot," Jeremy Helve said. He added that officers had looked at other areas of the parking lot.

Bakersfield Police tell Eyewitness News ski masks and clothing were found in the dumpster, and officers are trying to determine if they are connected to the jewelry store heist.

The shop owner said the thieves made off with a tray of rings. He said some were diamond rings, and some of the jewelry had spilled out on the ground when they ran off.

Bakersfield Police are investigating the incident, and anyone one with helpful information is asked to call (661) 327-7111.

On Friday, Jarvi was in the store starting to clean up. Several customers stopped by to ask how he was doing, and Jarvi said he and his family are grateful for their concern.

The shop-owner planned to be open on Saturday. He is concerned about crime and safety.

But, Jarvi also has a message for the thieves who robbed him, and threatened his life.

"I believe anyone can turn their life around, and hopefully these guys will turn theirs around," Jarvi said. "They came as close to death as I did, and I hope they can find it in themselves to try something different."